The higher education representative body GuildHE has applauded the financial support provided by higher education institutions to low income and under-represented students, as highlighted in today’s report from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).
OFFA’s finding that institutions are spending more than a quarter of their additional fee income on attracting and supporting students from lower income families and groups that are under-represented in higher education is encouraging and timely as Lord Browne prepares to report on the future of HE funding and student support.
Professor Ruth Farwell, Chair of GuildHE and Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University, said:  “This year’s report from OFFA clearly demonstrates that institutions are spending their additional fee income in a responsible manner, and that most have embraced the need to balance higher contributions from students with a significant investment in bursaries, scholarships and other widening access measures.
“We recognise that bursaries, scholarships and outreach spending in general are crucial pieces in the funding puzzle being put together by the Browne Review, as they touch on questions around institutional finance, tuition fee rates, student welfare and widening participation.
"The message Lord Browne should take from this OFFA report is that institutions are prepared to play their part in future student support arrangements as long as the funding regime allows them to do so, and that most institutions see the future of spending on widening participation as a key consideration for the review.
“We also note with some satisfaction that bursary take-up among students from the lowest income group has improved significantly, rising to 96 per cent in 2008/09. This follows a concerted effort by institutions and OFFA to provide clearer information about financial support, and highlights the importance of paying attention to the mechanisms and messages used to advise students on their HE options.”

For more information, please contact:

Alice Hynes
GuildHE Chief Executive
Tel: 020 7387 7711

Notes to editors

GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here